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Rafael Nadal Encouraged Despite Kooyong Loss, Stan Wawrinka Ready To Go • Buy Tickets • Great Tennis • Great Atmosphere

Rafael Nadal of Spain in action against Richard Gasquet of France during match two of the Kooyong Classic at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 09 January 2018. EPA-EFE/JULIAN SMITH

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

The upcoming Australian Open has already been plagued by a few withdrawals and it could be especially chaotic with once-injured top players seeded lower than they should be due to unusually low rankings, but 2018′s first Grand Slam got a boost on Tuesday with positive news from both Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka.

 

Nadal lost to Richard Gasquet 6-4, 7-5 at the Kooyong Classic, but results hardly matter at that annual exhibition tournement. Instead, the world No. 1 expressed encouragement following his first competitive appearance since an injury-plagued loss to David Goffin at the Nitto ATP Finals last fall. Nadal has been dealing with a knee problem dating back to 2017.

 

Rafael Nadal of Spain in action against Richard Gasquet of France during match two of the Kooyong Classic at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 09 January 2018. EPA-EFE/JULIAN SMITH

“It was a good test for me and good practice,” the Spaniard said of his setback against Gasquet. “I’m good and I am here, so that’s good news and my idea is just to keep practicing the next couple of days to be ready for the beginning of the Australian Open. It was a long year last year so I started my preparation a little bit later than usual. It’s good to start having the feelings of playing a match–even if it’s not official.”

 

Wawrinka also won’t play any official matches prior to the upcoming fortnight’s festivities Down Under, but he indicated on Tuesday that he is good to go for Melbourne. The three-time slam champion has slipped to ninth in the rankings due to inactivity; a knee injury has prevented him from taking the court since Wimbledon last summer.

 

“I’m really, really happy to be back on the tour and seeing the sun,” Wawrinka assured. “For me, the first thing is to play a match, to play a tennis match again. It’s been many months out of the tour. It’s not always the best when you are an athlete so I’m looking forward to it; enjoying the crowd. (I) still (have) a lot to do, but I’m feeling really positive; looking forward to starting.”

 

“There’s been a lot of questions and in fact, this is the first time publicly in six months that he’s said anything, so we are excited that he agreed to come here and do it with the ballkids,” Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said of Wawrinka’s participation in a Tuesday event at Melbourne Park. “So he’s ready to play. I’ve watched him practice. Obviously to play best-of-five-set matches and to play seven of them in two weeks, he’d need to have a lot of things go his way. But, as he indicated this morning, he will be ready to play and it’s great to see him out here.”

 

Andy Murray (hip) and Kei Nishikori (wrist) have already pulled out the Aussie Open. Novak Djokovic (elbow) is a question mark along with Nadal and Wawrinka, but also seems to be heading in the right direction.

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

 

Editors Note: Kooyong Is one of “Tennis 7 Wonders of the World”.

It’s an amazing historic site and home of tennis in Melbourne. There’s great ladies tennis too. Our friend Andrea Petkovic played yesterday.

Please buy tickets and go see the fabulous club.

It also has a great state of the art tennis museum. It’s truly a “GEM” (LJ)

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